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Based on the definition, I would think both lances and spears are a type of polearm. However, in some cases, I have seen the word polearm used separately to lances or spears. For example, in the game Maplestory, players can either equip a spear OR polearm, as if to say the two are completely different categories of weapons. Different sites also show different things. Some state that they consider lances and spears as polearms, while others specifically refer to polearms as something else entirely. What do you guys think?

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    Without bothering to check any dictionary definitions, I'd say a polearm is a weapon/arm that extends the reach of your biological one, but which always remains attached to the wielder. So a lance is definitely a polearm, but a spear is "ambiguous", since in some situations it's actually thrown (leaves the hand). – FumbleFingers Jun 28 '15 at 17:58
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Polearm has a precise definition which sets it apart from spears and the like:

A pole weapon or pole-arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range. A pole-arm is differentiated from a spear in that the penetrating 'edge' is parallel to the pole, rather than in-line, although many pole-arms also incorporate a spear point.

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See this link at TFD (which is where the picture comes from as well) and others like it for full details. Sources as general as Wikipedia are useful as well.

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